BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Rep. Keith Ellison Rep. Ilhan Omar and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith arrived at Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington on Sunday for a first-hand look at damage caused by an explosion Saturday morning. According to the FBI, a preliminary investigation indicates that the explosion was caused by an Improvised Explosive Device.
The device went off outside the imam's office. He wasn't there at the time, but people had gathered at the center for morning prayers.
Dar Al-Farooq executive director Mohamed Omar said that five minutes into first prayer, the congregation saw smoke billowing out of a broken window leading to the center Imam's office. When they saw the broken window, they called police.
"I was sad, and I was surprised," said Mohamed Omar, executive director of Dar Al-Farooq. "I was shocked. It was first prayer, it was 5 a.m. and the whole neighborhood was calm, people were supposed to be sleeping. That's how peaceful it should be."
There were said to be dozens of people inside during the incident, though no one was injured. Those present describe the office that contained the explosion as having broken and burned furniture.
In the past, Dar Al-Farooq has been subject to Islamophobic threats and messages. During the press conference, Omar described hateful messages, calls and emails the center has received lately, but said he has faith the police will find out more with their investigation.
Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota spoke at a Saturday press conference, condemning the act of violence.
"Hate is not okay," said Zaman. "We need a better America, we need an America where people are safe with their neighbors. Targeting people because of their race, their ethnicity or their religion is absolutely and completely un-American."
The Muslim American Society of Minnesota is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the conviction and incarceration of the person responsible. Additionally, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is offering a $10,000 reward for information.
“We hope a reward will help law enforcement authorities quickly apprehend the perpetrator of this act of violence targeting an American house of worship,” said a statement from CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Amir Malik. “If a bias motive is proven, this attack would represent another in a long list of hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions nationwide in recent months.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI, option #1 or call Bloomington police at (952) 563-4900.
The Dar Al-Farooq community started a GoFundMe page, which you can find here.
Statement from Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar
"This is a time for Minnesotans to stand together in opposition to hate. It saddens beyond words to know that someone in our state would set an explosion in a place where children gather every day to learn and play. This building is more than a religious symbol, it’s a place where Minnesotans are gathering to create community, to talk to their neighbors, to learn about our world and each other, and to help care for children. My thoughts, prayers, and love are with the families and neighbors in this community who feel a bond with each other shaken today.
"We cannot tolerate this sort of act in our state. I’m reminded that today is the fifth anniversary of a shooting massacre at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and I feel the need to remind my community that attacks on places of worship – no matter who commits them, no matter what religion is targeted, no matter the city or state or immigrant community – these attacks are attacks on our founding principles as Americans. I’m thankful no one was harmed in this explosion, unlike the shooting in Wisconsin, but targeting faith communities shakes all of our American pursuits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We must all unite to stand against them as Americans who cherish the ability to worship freely, and who cherish the ability of our neighbors to do the same."
Statement from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton
“Every place of worship, for all Minnesotans of every faith and culture, must be sacred and safe. My prayers are with the children, families, and faith leaders of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center today.
“I thank the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments, all other first responders, the FBI, and the ATF for their swift responses to this incident. Their investigations will be crucial in determining what happened this morning. I will remain in close contact with Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman throughout the weekend and until this investigation is complete.”
Statement from Lt. Governor Tina Smith
“Governor Dayton and I offer our unwavering support to the faith leaders of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center, and the families and children who call the Center their place of worship and learning.
“Every Minnesotan has the right to worship in peace and safety. Though we do not know what happened this morning, or who was responsible, we all stand together for love and acceptance, and against hate and intolerance.
“We are grateful for the first responders, law enforcement, and the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments, who have been working all day at the Islamic Center to investigate this incident and protect the safety of our community.”
Statement from Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo
“The Minneapolis Police Department continues to monitor the incident and information released by investigative authorities related to the explosion that occurred at the Dar Al Farooq Mosque in Bloomington, MN earlier today. At this time there are no known threats to any Minneapolis Mosques or Islamic organizations. The MPD will work with our local Muslim community members and continue to provide public safety in the neighborhoods where their places of faith and organizations are located."